A DEAL is set to be agreed on the running of Oxford’s leisure centres which will help keep them open for years to come.

Oxford City Council will decide next week whether to extend its contract with the social enterprise organisation which runs its six leisure centres.

The council’s leisure services chief says the £4m extra which will be saved via its contract with Fusion Lifestyle will help protect them from cuts.

City councillor Mike Rowley, executive board member for leisure services, said: “If we go for the extension, as I am recommending, the council will save about £4m against what we would have had to spend.

“This will insure our leisure services against cuts.

“The money will also allow us to continue maintaining and improving our leisure centres to keep them modern and up to date.”

Between 2010 and 2015/16, the city council anticipates that its grant from central government will have been cut by around 47 per cent.

This has meant it has had to save £64m and has to make cuts to some of its services as a result.

Fusion has been running Oxford’s six leisure centres and swimming pools since 2009 when the city council awarded it a 10-year contract.

The contract included the option of a five-year extension, which Mr Rowley recommends that the council now takes up.

A decision will be made on Wednesday by the city executive board.

In a report Ian Brooke, head of leisure, parks and communities, said that when the contract expires in 2019 the council can extend it, bring the service back “in-house” or develop a local trust to operate the centres.

But he said the options of bringing the service in-house or creating a trust to run it were ruled out because of significantly higher costs and the financial risks they would involve.

Since signing the contract with Fusion, usage of the city council’s leisure centres has increased by 40 per cent and now totals about 1.3m visits a year.

The deal concerns:

  • Ferry Leisure Centre
  • Oxford Ice Rink
  • Barton Leisure Centre
  • Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre and Blackbird Leys Pool
  • Temple Cowley Pools and Fitness Centre
  • Hinksey Outdoor Pool